LaGrange Texas, History, Brews, and Views

Published by the La Vernia News on June 27, 2013

LaGrange Texas, with plenty of History, Brews and Views

 Fayette County Seat Has It All                                                                                                                       

View of the Colorado River copy
RR Depot copy

Photos by: Harry & Linda Kaye PerezMonument Hill copy



Enjoy the beautiful view from the sandstone bluff in Monument Hill and Kreische   Brewery Texas State Park (Top Photo). The bluff overlooks the Colorado River that was once the hunting grounds for the Tonkawa and Comanche tribes. The LaGrange M-K-T (Katy) Railroad Depot is another great stop (photo above). Monument Hill commemorates the Dawson Massacre of 1842 (photo on left).                                                                              


      The La Grange Chicken Ranch, the longest running brothel in Texas history (1905 to 1973) is long gone, not a scrap of the old house of ill repute remains, but the city of La Grange is alive and well and welcoming visitors to this historical area. La Grange is 105 miles from La Vernia; take FM775 toward Seguin, turn east on Interstate 10 to Schulenburg, then north on 77 to La Grange.

      La Grange is the county seat of Fayette County and the centerpiece of the town square is a beautiful three-story Romanesque Revival Fayette County Courthouse with its beautiful clock tower, dating back to 1891. This building is one of 14 Texas county courthouses that were designed by San Antonio Architect, J. Riely Gordon from 1891 to 1899. One interesting aspect of this courthouse, as told to me by Bobbie Nash of the La Grange Chamber of Commerce, is that all four sides of the courthouse are identical, symbolizing that no matter who you are or where you come from, all are treated equally.

Everyday Journeys

Harry and Linda Kaye Perez

       After you visit the Fayette County Courthouse, check out the Old Jail at 171 S. Main Street. It is a beautiful two-story building constructed in 1883 and served as a jail until 1985. It once housed, among other prisoners, two members of the Bonnie & Clyde gang. In 1995 it became the offices of the La Grange Chamber of Comm

Courthouse copy

                                           Coffee, Kolaches, More                                                                                                           

Take a walk around the square and you will find some great shops and eateries.

Latte on the Square, 253 W. Travis, featuring sandwiches made with homemade foccacia bread, decedent desserts, specialty coffees and free Wi-Fi.

 Prause’s Meat Market  219 W. Travis, old fashioned meat market in the front portion, and behind the counter a seating area for enjoying delicious barbeque beef and hot links with all the trimmings.

 Bistro 108, 223 S. Main St. Check out their website for hours of operation and information on menu items including Sunday Brunch.

      And, no visit to La Grange would be complete without a trip to Weikel’s Bakery with over 20 different award-winning kolaches to choose from. It is just a two-mile drive from the town square at 2247 West State Highway 71.

                           Back In The day                                   Photo courtesy of the LaGrange Chamber of Commerce

     La Grange got its start like so many other South Texas towns: at an intersection of a waterway (the Colorado River) and a trade route (La Bahia Road); settled by immigrants; and involved in the fight for Texas Independence.                                                                                                                                                                                                                

      The end of the Mexican War brought prosperity and business to the area. Cheap land and beautiful landscapes attracted many including Heinrich Ludwig Kreische, a German immigrant who was a master stonemason and a brew master.  He purchased 172 acres of land on the bluff that is now the Monument Hill and   Kreische Brewery State Historic Sites and built a home for his family and the first brewery in Texas. His Krisch’s Bluff Beer helped his brewery become the third largest in Texas. The remains of his home and the brewery can be viewed in the park.

Picnic In The Park

      This Texas State Park is well worth a visit. It is a day-use only park and there is no entrance fee. In addition to the beautiful landscapes and historical aspects, there are picnicking opportunities with barbeque pits, hiking and sensational overlooks. The park sits high on a sandstone bluff overlooking the Colorado River that was once hunting grounds for the Tonkawa and Comanche tribes. Monument Hill stands as a tribute to the brave men lost in the Dawson Massacre, 1842, and the Black Bean Death Lottery, 1843. A granite crypt contains the remains of 52 men who gave their lives to maintain their precious Texas Independence.

Chicken Ranch

     And now, back to the La Grange Chicken Ranch. In 1917, with pressure from the La Grange community, Miss Jessie Williams, owner of the brothel, purchased a farmhouse on 10 acres of land on the outskirts of La Grange and moved her business out of town. During the Great Depression when money was scarce, patrons would trade chickens for services rendered. The number of chickens at the brothel grew and grew, and soon the place became known as the Chicken Ranch. Miss Williams supplemented her income by selling fresh eggs. The legend would have died along with the owner and the removal of the actual farmhouse had it not been for a couple of things: a song released by rock band ZZ Top entitled La Grange and the hit stage musical play in 1979, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, followed by the1982 movie based on that play starring Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds. Sounds like a little publicity wasn’t so bad after all.

Other interesting things to see in La Grange:

 The Faison Home, 822 S. Jefferson Street 

 La Grange M-K-T (Katy) Railroad Depot,

161 West Lafayette (one block from the square)

 Texas Quilt Museum, 140 West Colorado

 Texas Czech Heritage & Cultural Center

250 W. Fairgrounds Rd.

 Chamber of Commerce

171 S. Main St


   © Harry Perez 2012